Frequently Asked Questions

My doctor says the symptoms are caused by stress but I do not feel stressed. Why is this?

People with FND usually are very good at suppressing their emotional responses and often do not feel stressed when they should. We call this disorder of emotion processing ‘emotional disconnection’.

My friends think I am making this all up. What should I say to them?

Functional Neurological Disorders are often misunderstood. Suggest that they look at this website, perhaps.

Are you saying it is all in my head?

As far as Neurologists and Psychotherapists are concerned, everything that we experience is in the head, in that all awareness is through the brain. In that sense, FND’s are “all in the head”. However, we are not suggesting that you are making it up, making yourself ill or that you can decide to get better if you want to.

I could understand this explanation if my symptoms happened last year, but I am now through the stressful part of my life and feel fine from that point of view. Why is this?

The emotional responses to difficult personal circumstances and trauma are complex and prolonged. Often it takes some time for the effects of stress to become apparent.

I have developed new symptoms. Should I get them investigated?

Symptoms of FND characteristically change with time. It is often difficult to tell if a new symptom is part of FND or something else. If in doubt it is worth asking your psychotherapist or doctor who will arrange tests.

How do you know I do not have MS?

The symptoms of FND are very different from those of MS, and the abnormalities found on examination are also different. The results of investigations are sometimes needed to be certain.

A doctor/paramedic/nurse told me that I need a scan. Why do you think I do not?

Neurologists are experts in the field of diagnosis of neurological disorders including FND. Non-specialist doctors, paramedics and nurses will give their opinion in good faith, but It may not be as well-informed as an expert.

I was told I had a stroke by Professor/Doctor/My GP. You tell me this is not the case. Who do I believe?

The symptoms of FND often mimic a stroke, and sometimes it can be difficult to be sure if a person has had a stroke or not when they are first seen immediately after the symptoms appear. Investigations, such as MRI of the head, are very effective at diagnosing stroke, and if you have been told that your MRI shows no stroke you can be confident that you have not had one.

Should I be taking all these drugs?

People with FND often find themselves taking many drugs for different symptoms, and often are rather sensitive to their side effects. Some of the drugs may help, for example antidepressants sometimes help, especially when people have developed a low mood. As a rule we will work with you to minimise the medication you take in a rational way.

I have had counselling/psychotherapy before. Should I try again?

The specialist psychotherapy service we offer can sometimes help people when they did not get useful help before. This is not only because our skills are different, but also because sometimes therapy is offered at the wrong time in people’s lives or they do not interact well with a particular psychotherapist or counsellor. It is often worth trying again if you feel you can.

One of my parents has similar symptoms. Why is this?

FND are quite common. One of the risk factors for having FND is looking after someone with the condition, as it can be stressful and result in ‘emotional disconnection’.

Can I have both epilepsy and functional seizures?

Occasionally this happens, and it can make treatment complicated. When this happens we offer treatment for both.

I have been told I have a personality disorder. Is this related to my FND?

Very likely. Personality disorders can predispose to FND but also can be the result of personal experiences of neglect, abuse and trauma. Many aspects of personality disorders can get better with treatment including psychotherapy. Being diagnosed with a personality disorder doesn’t mean that nothing can be done.


Additional Information

Contact us

Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Glossop Road
S10 2JF
Tel: 0114 2713928

How to find the Royal Hallamshire Hospital

Our service hours

Service hours: 8.30 – 4.30pm Monday to Friday

Audio and video resources


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